Manuel grew up in Honduras, a country in the Inter-American Division of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. His co-workers were Adventists, but he never converted to the church there. But then he and a buddy moved to Texas for a job. To have something to do on the weekends with people who spoke his language he converted to the Adventist church where his co-worker attended.
Luella grew up in Trinidad-Tobago also in the Inter-American Division. Her cousins were Adventists, but she never converted at home. As a young adult she moved to Ontario, Canada, to go to the University. She got acquainted with a group of Adventists in her apartment complex and was baptized in her second school year. When life was so chaotic at school, the church was a structured place where the beliefs and behaviors of the church were clearly preached from the pulpit and in the Sabbath School classes and AY and she took comfort in that.
Luella and Manuel were delighted to learn from the study that they were not the only ones, for nearly a third of the members in the North American Division (31 percent) were not born as citizens of their current nation of residence, Bermuda, Canada or the U.S. This represents an immigration rate nearly three times the national rate in the U.S. and Canada.
Immigrant members are more likely to be found among those under 44 years of age. The Adventist Church also has a larger percentage of immigrants among its membership in North America than do other denominations of one million or more adherents, according to data at the Hartford Institute for Religion Research.
This trend is consistent with previous research that has shown that the Adventist Church in North America is growing much more rapidly among some immigrant groups than it is among native-born Americans, including the children of immigrants. The greatest growth appears to be among immigrant communities from nations where the percentage of Adventists in the general population is greater than the percentage in the U.S. and Canada. Immigrant church growth is driven more by “first arrivals” than by evangelism because there is no significant growth among “second generation” immigrants.
Manuel’s and Luella’s experience of coming to North America enhanced their career and education experience and standard of living. They credit this in large part to joining the Adventist Church.
These are just some of the fascinating findings found in the NAD Demographic Study. I'd encourage you to get a copy of the complete report. Not only is it insightful reading, but it's an excellent discussion starter. What is your church doing to recognize these trends and do something constructive about them locally?
INNOVATIONewsletter - February 24, 2010